Wages: Homily for Wednesday, August 23, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

This gospel goes against our sense of fairness. The same wages are given to all regardless of work.  Whether for one hour of work, or the whole day, everyone receives the same pay.  How is that fair? Yet the first hired agreed to this at the start. Take the job, get paid the usual daily wage.  The rest were told they would be paid whatever is just.  Or, they were not told at all exactly what they would be paid.  But they all agreed, and they all worked.

Yet I can understand the anger of the workers who had worked all day long.  They could have sat around and waited.  But they needed the job, and they answered the call of the owner of the vineyard for workers.  They were not cheated.  What they resent is the generosity of the landowner.  This is a story about God.  The God we follow is more generous to us than we deserve.  But when we see that generosity of God in the lives of others, we too can be resentful.  We can decide to grumble.  Yet when we truly appreciate the generosity of God, it is then we can rejoice every time God is generous, be it to us or others.

It begins with love: Homily for Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 23, 2017

To listen to the entire homily, click here.

Readings for Today

Do you feel unlovable?  Do you ever wonder if God loves you only because of what you can do?  Do you ever think that maybe if you worked harder, had more accomplishments, became more important, if you did these things you would really earn God’s love? It is interesting how easy it is to fall into the trap of this way of thinking.

Truth is, that we can do nothing to earn God’s love.  We are not loved because we are important, or rich, or famous.  Moses reminds the people of Israel of this in the first reading.  It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the LORD set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the LORD loved you. God loves us because God loves us.  As we celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus today, think about how much God loves you.

Homily for Friday, May 29, 2015

Readings for Today

For most, the worst thing to happen is to be forgotten. Think of a children whose parents forget to pick them up. Or how about when a person is forgotten when a relationship comes to an end. It is not a pleasant feeling. It can make us angry, frustrated, sad, depressed.

There are many instances when we seek to remember others. We just celebrated Memorial Day. We take time to make sure that our heroes are not forgotten. It is not unusual to have Masses offered to remember deceased loved ones. We remember specific anniversaries of significant events.

At wakes, we often tell stories we remember about the deceased loved ones. We do not want to forget significant events we remember about those who we love and care about. By the use of the great gift of memory, past events become real, if only for a time. Since human beings are in need of connections, it is often an important priority to seek to remember people that are dear to us.

But we also know there can be times when people do not remember us. We know there can be those persons who are forgotten. Even we ourselves can feel that we do not matter in the lives of others, if only for a time. But today’s reading reminds us that as much as humans have the need to be remembered, we can feel forgotten. We can feel sometimes like no one cares.

But God can not forget. We hear this message throughout the Scriptures. Even if human beings forget, God can never forget us. The love of God is too great. The immensity of God simply cannot forget those he created in love. Isaiah the prophet tells us that even if a mother can forget, God cannot. Jesus assures us in the gospels he did not lose even one of those given him by God. And each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we discover again and again that God remains real to us in a way more powerful than anything. So, while we might forget, while we might feel forgotten, we simply cannot be forgotten by God.

Homily for Thursday, January 8, 2015

Readings for Today

The checklist of the Messiah. Bring glad tidings to the poor. Proclaim liberty to captives. Recover sight for the blind. Let oppressed go free. Proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. These were the very things Jesus told the disciples of John when they came asking if Jesus was the Messiah. And during this Christmas season, it is important for us to focus on the fact that we believe Jesus is the Messiah. He does these things. And more.

So let us take some time to think about how we conceive of Jesus. First, as Catholics, what are some things we believe about Jesus. Well, we believe Jesus is both human and divine, we believe Jesus is the second person of the Blessed Trinity. We believe that Jesus loves us. We believe that Jesus suffered and died for our sins, and then rose again. But perhaps most of all, we believe that a personal relationship with Jesus, not simply with the human Jesus when he was on earth two thousand years ago, but with the divine Jesus too that is alive and active today. We can have a personal relationship with Jesus.

This is possible because of love. It is not because our love is primary, but that God’s love is primary. We heard that yesterday. But because God loves us, God desires for us to be in the loving relationship we are invited to have with God. This means first coming to the profound realization and acceptance that we are lovable because God loves us. It is also important for us to recognize that because we are loved by God, not only is this personal relationship with Jesus possible, it can change the way we interact with the world.

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Homily for Thursday, December 11, 2014

Readings for Today

Do you think of yourself as a saint? Do you seek for and strive after holiness? Or is it the case that you struggle to believe that with all you have done, you simply are beyond what God can love? It seems that we find ourselves today either not believing we are sinful, or not believing that even the power of God’s love can save us. Either type of thinking is a failure to know God, and a failure to seek to discover what it is that God requires of us. And a primary purpose of Advent is to get to know the God that seeks to save us.

For those who do not believe they can be saved, since their sins are simply too great, perhaps it is today’s first reading that could provide the hope that God can give you. The language in today’s first reading is pretty harsh. But the focus is not on how awful Israel or Jacob is, but rather just how much God can do. Regardless of their many sins, God still longs to help them. We may feel we are beyond the power of God’s forgiveness, but that is never true. God’s love is more powerful than the sinful evil we can commit.

This serves as a good reminder of the way God gives us so that we will be able to be sure of God’s love for us. We can wonder about whether we can be forgiven, but Jesus did not leave this to chance. No, he wanted us to be certain of God’s forgiveness, and so gave us a beautiful sacrament. Rather than leave us to wonder if God can forgiveness, Jesus empowered the apostles to perform a sacrament where God forgives sins.

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Homily for Monday, December 1, 2014

Readings for Today

There can be a tendency, when we refer to people who have died, to simply think of heaven as an improved version of here. It can be seen as the perfect family reunion, or a time when someone has unlimited hours to do the things they loved to do while on earth. And while those provide comforting thoughts, I think it misses the point about how grand is the life that awaits those who are saved in heaven.

It is true that we do not know much about heaven, in fact almost nothing. We know it exists, and we know that it involves both the personal and the communal. We do not cease being who we are, but we do receive the fullness of God’s presence. But exactly what that means is still a mystery to us. Writers like John Milton and Dante have tried to express their views on heaven and hell, but they are not definitive.

The best we can do is speak by way of analogy. We can talk about what heaven is like, drawing clues from the Scriptures. And just as we use familiar imagery to comfort ourselves as the loss of our loved ones, so too the Scripture readings use analogies to help us to understand just what heaven may be like.

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Homily for Monday, October 6, 2014

Readings for Today

Today we have a familiar gospel story and a challenge. I am sure we have heard the story of the Good Samaritan. The challenge is whether or not be put this into any kind of practice. What I mean is, is it the case that when we see someone in need, that requires something of us, we reach out to do whatever we can, and even more?

I think this is what Paul means when he expresses surprise the people who it so recently accepted the way of life of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and were so quickly abandoning it for other beliefs.

What we learned today, from the Gospel we have heard so often, is the very core of the gospel to Paul preached. Namely, when we put this together, the heart of the Christian life is centered upon love. Firstly of course, it is centered upon the love that God has always had for us, even from before the first moment of our creation. But the the love of God requires a response. The love is primary, we are called not only to love God with everything we have, but a lot of our neighbor as ourselves.

Hearing these words in a story that is so wonderful and beautiful and has such a happy ending is one thing. Putting these words into practice, when we are confronted with those that we made that wish to associate with, require some type of Christian service, it’s quite another thing altogether.
For example, what is our attitude toward the homeless? How do we feel about those who receive welfare? Do we find ourselves judgmental with those who do not share our own beliefs, thinking them unreasonable and arrogant?

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Homily for Thursday, October 2, 2014

Readings for Today

Poor Job. I know that not everyone has experienced the level of his suffering, but to those who have, it is easy to understand the words he speak that come from the deepest part of his being. Throughout this book his words are deep, real, and authentic. Yet in the midst of all of this, Job is able to hang on to his faith, his knowledge that because of his relationship with God he is never alone.

And Job certainly had many reasons to feel as if he were alone. All persons, all things, everything in Job’s life was taken from him. Even his friends, upon whom he counted for their support, ultimately blame Job for the sorry state he is in. His wife tells him to give up. Die. Get it all over with.

But Job never forgets just how much he is loved by God. He never forgets that all human love is a dim reflection of the spectacular divine love. With what very well was great effort, Job kept his eyes “focused on the prize”, so to speak, focused on God.

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Homily for Sunday, September 21, 2014

Readings for Today

For the record, I hate this gospel. Ok, that is probably a little strong. I do not hate it, but I do not like it either. That is because on first glance it seems to completely disregard any concept that hard work results in greater success. Does it not seem fair and just that those who work longer hours in the hot sun should get more than those who only worked an hour at the end of the day when the sun was nowhere near as hot?

It does seem like we long to believe in a world where hard work always pays off, where discipline always leads to great results, where those who apply themselves always get the reward of their labor. But running the risk of upsetting these basic foundations, I am hear to suggest that such things are not always true.

Consider hard work for example. If hard work were a standard that by itself resulted in success (whatever that means anyway) than those who grow crops, the migrant workers, for example, would be the wealthiest in our midst. For that matter, as a child I watched my mother work hard, and my father have more than one job at a time, but it did not seem to lead by itself to the success I think they achieved.

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Homily for Thursday, August 7, 2014

Readings for Today

There is a growing debate in education today whether or not students should be taught penmanship. For those of you who went to school at least a little while ago, you might remember learning how to write using the Palmer method. For those students who mastered the Palmer method, their handwriting is nothing less than beautiful. It is easy to see what is written, and understand what is meant. But increasingly in the age of technology, where so much is done using a keyboard, there is debate about whether this skill penmanship is still necessary for today.

Fortunately, God is not caught up in the controversy about how to write. His writing is clear, and rather than using paper, got rights upon our hearts. No longer will we have the excuse of saying we did not know. Rather, God writes his law upon our hearts so that we need to look no further than deep within ourselves.  Listen again to the tender words of God from the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah. “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

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